LCR Upgrade: Polk RtiA1/CsiA4 vs Ascend CBM-170SE/340SE vs SVS SCS-02 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-18-2011, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
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My HTIB (Onkyo HT-S6200) speakers were just not getting the job done - lack of mid-range, fullness and definition. My house loves a good movie; so, I decided to start the research on a reasonable upgrade. Based on budget, I decided on upgrading the front speakers for now with surrounds and a sub in the (near?) future. For now, I'll keep using the Onkyo AVR (HT-R670 130W/channel), the surround speakers and the sub (SKW-770/10"/290w).

Based on my research and local availability these are the speakers I auditioned:
Polk RTi A1, CSi A4 ($589 local with tax)
Ascend CBM-170SE, CBM-340SE ($622 shipped)
SVS SCS-02 ($515 shipped spring sale, $634 shipped regular)

Others Considered (reason excluded):

Arx A2, A3 (Not flush wall mountable, rear ported)
Axiom M3, M22 (cost, metal tweeter - friend cited harshness)
Aperion (cost)
Emotiva (cost)
Hsu (rear ported, comments on narrow sound stage)
Infinity (had them before, wanted to try something else)
Klipch (limited time, horn tweeter)

Audition Setup:

Room: 12' x 18' open at the back, open doorway near front left

Decision criteria/factors: sound quality (neutral, full, well defined), decent aesthetics (WAF indifferent or better), wall mountable, 85% movies, $500-$650 budget

Audition material: Shins "Oh, Inverted World", Wincing the Nights Away, Robbie Williams "Swing When You're Winning", Beck "Mutations", Fight Club (various scenes), Star Trek BD (various scenes), Batman: Dark Night BD (various scenes), Various HBO TV Shows (AT&T UVerse), Aliens, Band of Brothers - Music in stereo, Movies in 5.1 DTS Master-Audio

Speaker setup:
- L & R wall mounted using and Omnimount-20 (ball & socket type)
- Center on a shelf below TV
- Audessy EQ calibrated


General comments: I'm just a guy listening to speakers. No claims of audiophile ears. All I know is what I like. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of these. All have great, seamless sound and definition. Nuances noted below.
Scoring: Three star max, relative to each other not to all speakers

Polk RTi A1, CSi A4 (Black)

Sound: **
Clean, detailed, good imaging, thinnest bass of the bunch but with a sub likely unnoticeable, slightly bright but not in a fatiguing way

Aesthetics: ***
Best of the three, curved wood enclosure, edge to edge cloth grills, silver/gray accents

Mounting: ***
Keyhole and mounting stem support at the top, large rubber feet on the back to protect the wall

Ascend CBM-170SE, CBM-340SE (Black)

Sound: ***
Superb, rich, full sound. Incredible bass from such a small speaker. CBM-340 needs 6-8" from the wall or it's slightly boomy.

Aesthetics: *
Worst of the bunch. WAF was not acceptable ("too speakery & hangs funny"). Cloth grill slightly smaller than speaker face.

Mounting: *
Mounting plate attaches at the bottom of the CBM-170SE; so, speaker leans out from the bottom. Great for the rear port distance, bad for aesthetics.

SVS SCS-02 (Black)

Sound: ***
Clean, neutral sound, tight bass, massive sound stage - wow factor in movies the others didn't have

Aesthetics: **
Simple, understated. Tall and skinny. The metal grill covers the entire face of the speaker and has a slight curve.

Mounting: ***
Dual keyholes for flush mounting and mounting plate support at the top.


For my setup and needs the SVS set was the best fit. Serious "I'm at a movie" sound. I'd need more room for the Ascends and the SVSs beat the Polks in sound. If I was setting up a listening room, I'd get the Ascends - assuming spaced well..

If you're wondering why I went with the 3 SCS-02s instead of the 2 SBS-02 + 1 SCS-02, it was because of their spring sale. Sounds great to me.

I've linked a few shots. The SCS-02 are still mounted as I mentioned. If you've got questions, glad to share what I can. Sincerely appreciate all the feedback in the forums for quests of this sort!

Polk Rti A1 and Ascend 170 size compared to Xbox 360 Controller:

Ascend CBM-170SE Wall Mounted 1

Ascend CBM-170SE Wall Mounted 2

Current Setup with the SCS-02 LCR wall mounted (center soon to be flush mounted under the shelf)

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post #2 of 5 Old 06-18-2011, 09:53 PM
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Looks good. I'm glad you found what works best for you.
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post #3 of 5 Old 06-18-2011, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sholling View Post

looks good. I'm glad you found what works best for you.


Who AM I

Speakers -- Snell K7 > Canton GLS 2 > Boston VS240
Receiver -- Integra 50.2
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post #4 of 5 Old 06-19-2011, 01:41 PM
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Hi Abryant,

first off, welcome to the forum

Wise decision indeed! I also have 3 x SCS-01 and couldn't ask for more.
Tell you what; even though there were no spring sales for now, you'd be much better served with the SCS's rather than the SBS's for the front array though.
I also have the SBS-01's for the surround duties and no complaints at all.

Regards, Chuck
Hold on tight to your dreams - ELO
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-19-2011, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the welcome. I've been lurking on and off for years. Glad to have some time to write up my experience.

Good to know on the SBS for surrounds. I was looking at those or the SSS for my rears, but there's no rush since it's a fairly small room and my old ones are doing well enough.

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